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In Pictures: It’s a long, long way down at Colorado’s Royal Gorge
By Tom Adkinson
July 21, 2023

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CAÑON CITY, Colo. – Southern Colorado’s Royal Gorge region is no place for acrophobes or agoraphobes (fancy words for people who fear heights or open spaces). It’s just not the place for you if you dread walking across a bridge 956 feet above a rushing river or peering across an open landscape to a distant horizon, especially if that view comes just before someone pulls the switch to free you for a breezy 2,350-foot-long ride over a 1,200-foot-deep canyon on America’s highest zip line. Cloudscraper is the zip line’s descriptive name. These experiences – and more – await the curious and courageous at Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, about 60 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. Royal Gorge, known to Native Americans, European-American explorers, railroad builders and bridge engineers for its beauty, drama and challenges has become a major Colorado leisure travel destination.

Stroll across America’s highest suspension bridge

Royal Gorge Bridge
When you walk across the Royal Gorge Bridge, you are 956 feet over the Arkansas River. When built in 1929, it was the highest suspension bridge in the world until 2001. It remains the highest in the U.S. A refurbishment project in 1987 strengthened it to withstand winds up to 125 miles per hour. Image by Tom Adkinson

Glide across the gorge inside a gondola

aerial gondola royal gorge
A Royal Gorge Bridge ticket allows you to ride in the bright red cars of the Aerial Gondola as many times as you want to peer into the gorge and to admire the surrounding mountains. The gondola cars were installed in 2013 with the aid of a helicopter pilot who threaded steel cables across the gorge. Image by Tom Adkinson

Zip across for an open-air experience

Cloudscraper zip line
A ride on the Cloudscraper zip line is a surprisingly comfortable – and seated – experience. The zip line’s cables parallel the Royal Gorge Bridge and the Aerial Gondola. The Arkansas River is 1,200 feet below. A Travel Channel survey rated it Colorado’s top bucket list experience. Image by Tom Adkinson

Be brave on the Royal Rush Skycoaster

royal rush skycoaster
You can find Skycoasters around the world, but the Royal Rush Skycoaster delivers an extra thrill. When the release is pulled after you are pulled to the top of a 100-foot-tall tower, the arc of your swing carries you over the edge of the Royal Gorge – perhaps making you wonder whether there’s a fine line between brave and foolhardy. Image by Tom Adkinson

Just take in the scenery

colorado scenery royal gorge
The thrill rides of Royal Gorge Park are a treat for those who want an adrenalin rush, but simply taking in the Colorado scenery is sufficient for many park visitors. The Arkansas River originates in Colorado near Leadville, flows through Royal Gorge near Cañon City and continues into Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The 1,469-mile-long river is one of the major tributaries to the Mississippi River. Image by Tom Adkinson

Trip-planning resources: and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available on

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